A good night’s sleep is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Along with regular exercise and a healthy diet, the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night is beneficial to live a healthy adult life. There are helpful aids and routines that we can all use to establish a healthy sleeping pattern and to start sleeping better.
Read on for ten top tips to help you easily hit the hay and enjoy a splendid night’s sleep.
Whilst natural daylight helps to improve energy levels in the mornings and afternoon, it’s recommended we reduce screen time before bed, avoiding devices such as TV’s, tablets and computers for a good couple of hours before bedding down to prevent a restless night.
Screens emit a blue light that slow the production of melatonin, which is the hormone responsible for controlling your circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle). This makes it difficult to not only fall asleep but also fight the urge to get out of bed the next morning.
Many of us are reliant on our caffeine fix first thing in the morning, dependant on it setting us up for the day, but whilst just one dose has proven benefits to aid in our focus and energy, it’s best avoided in the evening. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system which can stop your body from naturally relaxing at night.
To aid in a good night’s sleep, it helps to make sure the bedroom is a quiet, relaxing place. Minimising factors such as external noise, light, and artificial lights from devices such as televisions and alarm clocks in the room can all help result in a comfortable sleeping experience.
In addition, bedroom temperature can also affect sleep quality. As we have all experienced during the height of summer, it can be tricky getting to sleep when it’s too warm. It is recommended to test different temperatures to find which is most suitable for an enjoyable night’s sleep.
Research suggests taking a nice hot bath 90 minutes before bed can help you fall asleep more easily. Hot water helps change the body’s core temperature to ensure you go to bed with a lower temperature as well as helping to relax the muscles.
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A good way to ensure you experience a good night’s sleep and aid in waking naturally at a similar time each morning is by sticking to a routine of sleeping at consistent times each night. It helps for young children to keep them to a sleeping routine but it works wonders for us adults too!
The need of afternoon naps may be a sign that you’re not getting enough sleep during the night. They can also cause disruption to a healthy sleeping pattern, making it harder to get some shut eye at the end of the day – so it can be a vicious circle. Should you feel like you do require an afternoon nap, try to keep it short, around 20 minutes, as this may avoid grogginess when waking. Keeping afternoon naps short may also prevent from having trouble falling asleep later in the evening.
A way to aid in a good night’s sleep is to consider healthier options as part of your diet. A balanced diet plays a large part in your overall sleep health. Eating foods with high amounts of sugar, salt and fat can negatively affect your sleeping pattern and how easy you can drift off at night.
Similarly, drinking alcohol in the evening can also impact your sleep. Those that drink large amounts of alcohol before bed often need more time to fall asleep and are more likely to experience sleep disruptions. Sleep Foundation have revealed that consuming two alcoholic drinks or more at night can decrease sleep quality by a whopping 32.9%!
Partaking in moderate to vigorous exercise is something we should all be doing regularly to maintain a healthy lifestyle but it also benefits our sleeping pattern too. Exercises such as brisk walking, light bicycling and sporting activities such as recreational badminton and tennis doubles can all relieve daytime sleepiness, increase sleep quality for adults by reducing the time it takes to fall asleep and decreases the amount of time lying awake in bed during the night.
Bed quality can have a huge impact on your sleep. Your choice of duvet, pillows, bedding and mattress all affect your quality of sleep. The type of bedding you opt for can affect your temperature during the night and your overall comfort as you bed down for the evening. Choices should be based on personal criteria as we all have different preferences when it comes to our bedding. For example, pillows can be selected based on firmness and thickness and bed sheets can be selected on preference of crispiness or silky-smooth feel.
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If you are having considerable trouble sleeping at night and it is seriously affecting your health and bedtime routine, there may be an underlining condition causing your sleep problems.
Conditions such as chronic pain, diabetes, asthma and Parkinson’s disease have all been linked to insomnia. Though any of these may not be the reason for sleep deprivation, it is always best to get checked and rule out any underlying health issues.
Sleep plays a key part in your overall health and well-being which is why it’s important to try and aim for that recommended 7-9 hours of shuteye each night. If none of the above advice is proving helpful or having a positive effect, be sure to contact a healthcare professional to address and potentially resolve any underlying causes.
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